Friday, September 12, 2008

A Very Extroverted Culture

On the Myers-Briggs scale I am an ENFP, Extrovert Intuitive Feeling Perceiver. The description of that personality type is so like me that for a moment I thought my mother had written it. A lot of people have a decent balance on each of the four levels and just tend to favor one characteristic over the other. I don't. I'm off the charts on all of them. (This is also a mark of those who are either highly creative or insane. I'm still trying to decide which of those camps I fall into, but heck I'm inclusive. Why not be both highly creative AND insane? Isn't life more fun that way?) I was talking to a co-worker of mine about how personality types form and support a particular culture in a company. 

"Isn't it amazing what an extroverted culture we have here at work?" he asked. "Huh?" I replied. I hadn't even noticed. "Go back and look at your calendar," he said. "Let me know if you see a pattern."

So I tootled back over to my desk and browsed through my calendar. Every day, specifically every afternoon, is packed with meetings and phone calls. I reported back to my co-worker and he smiled. One of the key components of the extrovert personality is that they like to ease into their day and gain energy as the day goes on. They get anchored in the morning, get up to speed, and by the afternoon are antsy and raring to go. That's me. I don't mind being up in the morning, I actually enjoy it, but I am one of those people who cannot be rushed into getting ready. I need to do my own thing for a while. For years I've hated the thought of exercising in the morning (I'm an after-work gym goer) and now I know why. 

Extroverts also approach other situations in their lives with this slow ramp up and the gaining of speed as time goes on. When they go to parties, they are a bit quiet at first and then the last ones  to leave. They take their time at the start of projects and then enjoy a swift and speedy wrap-up. Me again. Their best reflection time is at night when their creativity (or insantiy as the case may be) comes alive. And when do I write and study best? At night. Some people prefer to get to bed and can wake up early to knock out their work. Not me - I'll stay up and get it done now thank you. I'm an extrovert.  

Not so amazing though, right? A lot people in this world are extroverts - 70% of the population. What is amazing to me is that an organization comprised of tens of thousands of people all across the globe has a very strong, identifiable culture that almost perfectly exhibits the traits of being a supreme extrovert. While we'd like to believe that a company's goal is to be balanced with all personality traits, it seems that in some cases the "birds of a feather" principle stands. Who knew calendars were more than just a way to get where we're supposed to be when? They're actually a window into the psyches of the people around us.   

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